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Eni, Versalis and COREPLA partner to recover mixed plastic waste

In Italy, oil, gas, and energy major Eni S.p.A, Versalis S.p.A, a subsidiary of Eni and COREPLA – the National Consortium for the Collection, Recycling, and Recovery of Plastic Packaging – have signed an agreement that will see them pool their expertise to collect and recycle plastic packaging, with a particular focus on non-mechanically recyclable mixed plastics (plasmix). The aim is to provide a practical and sustainable solution to the recovery of plastic packaging waste on a national scale.

In Italy, Eni S.p.A, Versalis S.p.A, and COREPLA – the National Consortium for the Collection, Recycling, and Recovery of Plastic Packaging – signed an agreement on June 30, 2020, that will see them pool their expertise to collect and recycle plastic packaging, with a particular focus on non-mechanically recyclable mixed plastics (plasmix). The aim is to provide a practical and sustainable solution to the recovery of plastic packaging waste on a national scale (photo courtesy Eni).

Over half of the plastic packaging collected from sorted bins in Italy is currently sent for mechanical recycling to make new products. The remaining portion of mixed post-consumer plastics that are not suitable for mechanical recycling, known as plasmix, now mainly ends up in cement plants, where it replaces fossil fuels, whilst some are used for energy recovery and the remainder sent to landfill.

The agreement which was signed on June 30, 2020, aims to launch a study plan that will exploit all the plasmix fractions available in the COREPLA chain. The partners will pool their respective expertise in the fields of gasification and chemical recycling by means of pyrolysis.

Versalis is in the process of designing a first chemical recycling plant using the pyrolysis technology and set to be built in Mantua, in addition to the various mechanical recycling initiatives that the company is spearheading.

This agreement, which establishes synergies between our respective technological expertise and a wide-reaching industry alliance, will allow us to develop a circular model for plastics at a national level in order to get the very best value out of them even once they have become difficult to recycle mechanically. Today’s waste is becoming a precious and sustainable raw material for tomorrow, Daniele Ferrari, CEO of Versalis.

ELP for methanol and hydrogen

A second agreement signed by Eni and COREPLA aims to establish the feasibility of recovering end-of-life plastics (ELP) at the innovative plants that Eni is looking into for the Venice biorefinery, in Porto Marghera, and at the Livorno refinery, for the production of hydrogen and methanol obtained through gasification respectively.

Gasification is a technological process for producing syngas that involves a thermal reaction at a controlled high temperature in an enclosed environment, meaning that there are no direct emissions out of flue stacks. This takes place under temperature conditions that vitrify the pollutants and render them inert and stable.

COREPLA will make a vital contribution to determining the availability and composition of the plasmix managed through its chain at a national level, in conjunction with various companies specialising in the recovery sector, with a view to making it compatible with the various requirements of the technologies involved.

The agreements signed with Eni and Versalis are part of a strategy aimed at the complete recovery of plastic. We want to be key players in driving a real circular economy that is based on practical and innovative projects, whilst also strengthening Italy’s leading position in an increasingly sustainable chemicals industry. This is a goal we’ve achieved through technological progress and constant innovation undertaken by Eni, which has this year successfully implemented a major conversion plan for its plants, as with Porto Marghera, with a long-term focus on effectively shaping a greener future. We firmly believe that this path will help us to further our goals and position COREPLA as ready to face new challenges, said President Antonello Ciotti, President of COREPLA.

The agreement also provides for the extension of the RiVending project launched at Eni’s offices in San Donato Milanese for the recycling of polystyrene stirrers and coffee cups from vending machines, which will now be extended to other Eni and Versalis offices and industrial sites.

For Eni, the agreements are part of a long-term strategy that will see Eni establish itself as a leader in the production and marketing of decarbonized products.

This agreement represents a further step that Eni is taking along the strategic pathway to decarbonizing its activities. We were the first in the world to turn traditional refineries into refineries that produce high-quality biofuels from used and frying oils, animal fats, and other non-edible waste. The goal now is to become a leader in circular mobility products, such as hydrogen and methanol from raw materials that are difficult to recycle, explained Giuseppe Ricci, Chief Refining & Marketing Officer at Eni.

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